How to Build a Campfire

Book excerpt from Summer: A User's Guide, Published by Artisan, a division of Workman Publishing Company, Inc.

How to Build a Campfire

Building campfires can be educational, fun and a real treat for kids of all ages. Just be careful…!


  • Kindling (sticks, small logs from fallen branches, dry leaves, paper) and logs
  • Bucket of water, or water source
  • Shovel
  • Small- to medium-sized rocks and stones (for optional fire ring)


1 Build your fire at least 10 feet away from tents, trees, roots and other flammable items. A fire ring is simple to build with stones and rocks and helps contain the fire. If you can’t build one, just clear a space 24 to 32 inches across.

2 Gather dry firewood and kindling, using only fallen branches, then build a small, loose pile of twigs, dry leaves, paper, and kindling, allowing space for air to flow through and feed the fire.

3 Build a pyramid of dry twigs and small sticks around and above the pile of kindling, allowing space for the air to flow through and feed the fire. Light the kindling with a match.

4 As the fire grows in strength, add increasingly larger sticks, then logs, making sure to always leave enough space between them for the fire to breathe.


Building and Burning

  • Build a fire only as big as you need.
  • Never build a fire near tents or other flammable items.
  • Never use flammable fluids to start a fire.
  • Never leave fire unattended.
  • Keep a bucket of water and a shovel nearby just in case.


  • Make sure to completely extinguish the fire when you’re done.
  • Scatter the ashes or embers, then sprinkle with water. Stir with a stick. Repeat.
  • Drench the charred logs.
  • Repeat until everything is cold.

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